JLR said employees at the West Midlands plant would be paid for the duration of the shutdown and no jobs would be lost. In a statement on October 8, parent company Tata Motors said total sales at the firm fell -12.3% in September to 57,114 vehicles. It blamed a -46% slide in China, its biggest market, where rising competition ongoing trade tensions held back demand.
“As part of the company’s continued strategy for profitable growth, Jaguar Land Rover is focussed on achieving operational efficiencies and will align supply to reflect fluctuating demand globally as required,” the firm said in a statement. “The decision to introduce a two-week shutdown period later this month at Solihull is one example of actions we are taking to achieve this.”
The Solihull plant, where the firm makes Range Rover and Jaguar models, will close from 22 October. It follows a move to a three day week for 2,000 workers at the firm’s Castle Bromwich plant and an announcement in April to lay off 1,000 workers across its West Midlands’ plants.
The UK car industry has been struggling in recent months, as diesel sales fall and carmakers face tougher new emissions standards. The number of new cars registered in the UK dived by -20.5% in September, according to industry figures, following an unusually strong August and a turbulent first eight months of the year. Manufacturers are also increasingly vocal about the potential risks of Brexit. They fear that an end to frictionless trade would disrupt their “just-in-time” supply chains, hurting production.
In the past few weeks, Japanese carmakers Nissan, Toyota and Honda have warned that a no-deal Brexit could hit output and profits. In September, BMW said it would have to shut the Mini factory in Oxford for a month after Brexit if the UK failed to secure a trade deal with the bloc.